Britain’s Jordanne Whiley, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid secured a historic brace of doubles titles on Friday at the Australian Open as Andy Lapthorne made it a perfect day for players on the LTA’s GB Wheelchair Tennis World Class Performance Programme. While it’s the first time that Brits have won both men’s and women’s doubles titles in Melbourne, Lapthorne booked his place in Saturday’s quad singles final after claiming a final set tie-break against Australian Heath Davidson.
On a second successive day when play was delayed by extreme heat, Whiley partnered close friend Yui Kamiji of Japan to earn a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot. It was Whiley’s first Grand Slam title as a mum, having returned to international competition only last February.
It was also a third Australian Open crown for Whiley and Kamiji and a tenth Grand Slam doubles title in total since 2014 for the duo, who claimed their fourth Wimbledon title in 2017 when Whiley was 11 weeks pregnant.
Whiley, who partnered Kamiji to win their semi-final on Thursday, the same day as son Jackson’s second birthday, said:
It was more emotional than I thought because the match point didn’t go as I thought. I thought I’d missed the shot, the volley, so when I made it, it was kind of that immediate reaction of ‘Oh my God I’ve just won a Slam with Yui again’. And then it was emotional because I could just see how much Yui cared and it was actually really nice to feel that love from her and to know that she’s missed me and it means a lot to her as well.Jordanne Whiley
Second seeds Hewett and Reid, already three-time Wimbledon and US Open men’s doubles champions, claimed their first title together at Melbourne Park after fighting back from a set down to beat French top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 4-6, 6-4, (10-7)
Now seven-time Grand Slam doubles champions Hewett and Reid were unable to recover from losing an early break in the first set of the men’s doubles final, but hit back to consolidate an early break of their own in the second set. They found themselves 4-2 down in the deciding match tie-break, but it was their French opponents who eventually succumbed to the pressure as Hewett and Reid sealed victory after two hours of play.
Reid, who also won the 2017 Australian Open title partnering Belgian Joachim Gerard, said:
We’re really pleased to finish the week as doubles champions. It’s the first time that we’ve won it here together – we’ve had a couple of chances before and not managed to get over the line, so it was a really pleasing victory for us out there and I think we finished it off in style as well in the tie-break.Gordon Reid
After his first Australian Open title in either singles or doubles, reigning US Open champion Hewett said:
It feels pretty good. I think we were both a bit exhausted afterwards, it was a tough match, especially after last night’s epic semi-final another late one. I think we did well to recover and go again and the standard was really high for us in that final.Alfie Hewett
Lapthorne, this week’s world No.1, went into his third and last quad singles round-robin match against Davidson having won seven of his previous nine matches against the Australian. However, he had to dig deep for his latest victory, saving two match points at 6-5 down in the final set. With the final set tie-break format played out as a first-to-ten match-break, Lapthorne eventually wrapped up a tense 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(10-5) after two hours and 32 minutes.
US Open champion Lapthorne, who’s won two of his three round-robin matches this week, will now play defending champion Dylan Alcott of Australia on Rod Laver Arena in Saturday’s final. Lapthorne said:
I didn’t play massively great but at the end of the day it’s about getting to the final, about getting through those round robin stages and giving yourself a chance to win the tournament and I’ve done that.Andy Lapthorne